Overcast skies and temperatures hovering around freezing greeted racers on day 1 of the UNH Carnival in Jackson, New Hampshire. The format for racing was classic interval start with skiers starting at 30 second intervals. Women covered the 5-kilometer course once while men skied two laps to complete a 10-kilometer race.
The course, featuring rolling uphills followed by undulating downhills and challenging corners, presented skiers with a complex test of endurance, strength, agility, and mental stamina that required competitors to remain focused throughout to achieve success. With hard tracks and changing snow conditions, ski preparation was another important factor to performance.
In addition to a handful of noncollegiate racers, one notable team presence on Friday was guest University of Utah. The University of New Hampshire will host the 2017 NCAA Skiing Championships in March and Utah skiers stated that this weekend serves them well to both gain experience racing the course and test their fitness closer to sea level.
In the men’s race it was Martin Bergstroem of the University of Utah who won the race in 25:36.3. He was followed by his teammate Martin Mikkelsen who was 26 seconds back. Sophomore Ian Moore of the University of Vermont placed third and recorded his first EISA victory of his collegiate career. Eli Hoenig (Williams) was 4th and Peter Holmes (UNH) was fifth.
For Moore, earning his first EISA victory in Jackson had a special significance. “I learned to ski here,” Moore said after the race “My energy today came from passion. I was excited to be back.” Moore’s experience in Jackson helped him to focus on key elements of the course noting that both “staying strong on the uphills and really working the downhill rollers” were critical elements with a general focus on transitioning sections. With another day on his favorite course awaiting, Moore is excited to see if he can carry the success to skate skiing.
Hoenig, like Moore, agreed that being able to both start hard and stay strong was critical. “I was really focused on that second lap,” he said, “It was really important to be strong up the first two hills on the second half while also being able to sprint the rolling downhills.” Honeig’s effort led a strong performance by the William’s men as a whole. He was quick to mention major goals for the team ahead. “As a team, we hope to win every weekend from now on,” he said, “The team is looking strong and we’re going to keep on getting stronger.”
In the team competition, traditional powerhouses UVM and Dartmouth were pushed from the top of the results sheet. The University of Utah triumphed over EISA schools with a score of 132 points in the men’s race. The top EISA school of the day and second overall was William’s College whose strong performance earned 109 points. Third place went to Middlebury College with 87 points.
In the women’s race the University of Utah was again dominant as Guro Jordheim skied to victory in 14:27.6. She was followed by Alayna Sonnesynn of the University of Vermont who achieved her first EISA victory of the season. Third place want to Merete Myrseth (Utah), Lydia Blanchet (Dartmouth) was 4th, and Leah Lange (Utah) was 5th.
Jordeim was excited both by her victory and the opportunity to gain pre-championship experience racing close to sea level. “It feels so good to race down here,” she said, “I really like this course, it is very technical.” The change in elevation was very helpful according to Jordeim, “I knew that I must start hard but I thought that it was ok because we were at low altitude and I felt strong in the second half. “I was focused on going fast on the downhills,” she said of her focus for much of the race. With one more day to race out east before returning in March, Jorheim felt that the most important skill to gain was to “learn how hard my body can go down here.”
The University of Utah again topped the team score with 133 points. Top EISA school UVM finished second with 108 points narrowly besting third-place Dartmouth who finished third with 106 points.
Racing resumes tomorrow in Jackson with distance skate mass start races. Men will race 20-kilometers while women will race 1- kilometers.